Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ask Linda #1492-Ball lost due to another player picking it up

Linda, thanks for all your good work.

Player A hits his ball from the fairway into the woods that has an adjacent fairway. We look for his ball for five minutes, during which time he finds someone else's ball. We wonder if someone from the other fairway picked up his ball. We ride to their green where the players are putting out. Sure enough, one of the players had picked up his ball, which was properly marked and identified. Is player A restricted to 5 minutes, must play from the original spot and therefore be penalized stroke and distance? Can he drop his found ball about where it should have landed and proceed from there with no penalty? Is this an outside agency situation and therefore he should go back to his original spot with no penalty?
Lou from Georgetown, Texas 

Dear Lou,

The answer will not make you happy. If a player has searched for five minutes and has not found his ball, it is “lost” by definition. He must play another ball under stroke and distance. The fact that another player has picked up his ball does not change this ruling [Decision 27/6].

If the matter is resolved within five minutes, the player will place the ball if the original spot is known, or drop it as near as possible to where it originally lay if the spot is not determinable [Rule 20-3c].

Thank you for not sharing the conversation that ensued when the player retrieved his ball from the thief.

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